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Old February 2nd, 2018, 01:53 PM   #61
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Falling with the Rain

The fan swung around and around in never-ending fast-paced cycles, the chain rattling around as the blades cut through the smokey air. A cigarette burned in an ashtray next to the king-sized bed, the aroma of the cigarette intertwined with the smell of marijuana and spilled alcohol. Lying on the bed was the lanky figure of David - never Dave - Axton, his flower-power perm shagged up and curled. He was fast asleep, practically out cold, when all of a sudden he shot up like a dart. In his eyes was a madcap twinkle, bloodshot and crazy. He ran his hands through his hair, twisting the locks with his right index finger as he let his left hand fall to his satin pants. Biting the inside of his lip, he thought for a moment about nothing at all.

David swung his legs off the bed and slipped his feet into his worn black Chelsea boots. He had not polished them for some time, and there were a few scuffs and thinning of the dark finish. Standing up, he felt his legs wobble and weaken. Regaining his strength by taking the last drag of the burning cigarette, he traipsed slowly towards his wardrobe. The fan’s whipping cycles beat against his exposed pale skin, relatively hairless when compared to other men of his age. He was barely 23. Opening his clothing cabinet, he examined the contents. Various peacock shirts, adorned with paisley patterns, multi-colored lines and patterns, and extravagant colors greeted him. His eyes fell to the trousers that he was wearing, a burgundy pair of corduroy.

Wot shall I wear today? Hmm….

His eyes glided back and forth between the shirts. Pulling out a pink-green-blue paisley patterned shirt by its sleeve, he thought for a moment and let it fall back into the closet.

Hmmph..

A sense of urgency came upon him, and he gripped up a shirt’s sleeve. He wasn’t sure of what was so urgent, or why he felt this way, but he felt an incredible amount of pressure. He was late for something. He had to be somewhere. But where?

Hmm…I like this one…

He pulled out a black-and-white zig-zag shirt and tossed it onto his bed. Reaching down to the bottom of the wardrobe he grabbed a white undershirt and threw it on. It was awfully chilly so he felt obliged to put it on. Once that shirt was on, he slipped on the zig-zag button up and fashioned it on himself. He pulled down on it once it was on. It barely reached over the zipper on his pants.

Ought to get a bigger shirt...ought to get smaller...

He walked over to the window of his apartment. There was only one, as he lived in a small one-room with an adjacent bathroom. It was all together very fancy, and very much within his budget, allowing him money for personal expenses. He had lived here, at 101 Hotham Road, for as long as he could remember - which wasn't very long. On the windowsill, David kept a potted cactus. He was very insistent to his friends that once it was large enough, he would cut it up and make tea of it.

Just another six inches….

Staring through the warped and wavy glass, a host of odd characters strolled up and down the street. Clowns in polka-dot and disturbing men in Victorian redcoats, they waved and cheerfully greeted each other. Ladies in bright white and men in their fluorescent habits eloped arm-in-arm.

Tsk.

David sauntered towards a table along the wall, on which sat a record player, some assorted LPs, and a jar of green dope. He crouched down on his toes and analyzed the records, fingering through the cardboard cuts.

Beatles..no...Davis...no no....Stones...? No...no… Ah! Yes! Yes!

He picked up a green album and pulled the wax from the interior. Placing it on the turntable, he dropped the needle. As the musical sounds of rock’n’roll crescendoed on the stereos, David rolled himself a joint. The guitars wailed as he completed the motions. Feeling through his pockets with a free hand, he produced a Zippo and sparked the joint. Throwing the Zippo aside, he fell backwards onto the floor, taking heavy drags. Smoke blew up into fan, which tossed it around the free-falling air. The vocals of what sounded like an elf sang about some otherworld in the ether.

As David floated in space, a pounding banged on the door. David turned his head towards the door. He did not get up, hoping that the person would eventually tire, and leave. But, yet, they continued to barrage on the wood with their fist.

“David! Open the door!”

David contemplated the words. They echoed back and forth in his skull, each syllable ringing around and around.

“What do you want?”

“Open the door!”

“What do you want?”

“Open the fucking door!”

Hmph….

David rose to his feet and unlocked the door. He laid back down at his previous position, puffing on the disproportionally large green cigarette. Turning his head to face the opening door, David saw a pair of loafers with satin legs attached to them, and a polka-dot vibrant collared torso connected to them. Malcolm Ferguson stood with glaring eyes towards his incapacitated friend, lying on the floor.

“Ah, Ferg! Come to visit, yes? Shall I put the kettle on?”

“No, I won’t be long.”

“Ah, well...what have you come for then?”

“I came along to remind you of the obligations for tonight.”

“Oh, I hadn’t forgotten, Ferg.”

“Be ready for us at six. We’ve got a show tonight.”

“I’m aware, Ferg.”

“I’m just letting you know, David.” A pervasive silence filled the room. It remained unbroken for seconds that seemed like hours. David puffed on his joint. “Have you any new material written?”

“Oh, here and there…”

“We’ve got studio time booked in a week. Will you have something?”

“Yes! Yes, definitely, Ferg. You can count on me.”

“I know, I’m just making sure…” Ferg rubbed his chin. “Do you have anything ready right now?”

“Bits and bobs….it needs more work….” David’s voice trailed off. He opened his mouth to say more, but it fell apart in his head. He let out an audible sigh.

“Listen, David…” Ferg scratched his flowing hair. “There’s really no easy way to tell you this. We’re starting to get really fed up with your attitude.” He spoke bluntly and matter-of-factly, ushering out his words with promptness and urgency. He had thought these words through carefully. David’s eyes watched the fan above him spin around and around and around and around. “It’s starting to get a bit excessive. What’s going on, man?”

“I’m perfectly fine, Fergy.” David smirked, and flicked his almost-finished butt towards the window. It fell short and landed on the floor, continuing to emit a small trail of smoke. “I’ve just had a bit of writer’s block, is all.”

“It’s not just that, David.” Ferg leaned back against the wall. This wasn’t the kind of talk that he wanted to have. He furrowed his brow and rubbed his temples, running his hands through his locks. “It’s the whole thing, man. You barely come to rehearsals and when you do, you’re braindead on God knows what! It’s really exasperating. We finally made it, and you’re deadset on pissing it away!”

“Don’t you assume things about me, Malcolm.” David snarled viciously. From jokester to devil in seconds. “I’ve thought a lot about things…”

“Maybe you should think about things some more, and figure out what is important to you, and what isn’t.” Ferg twisted the knob and began to walk out of David’s room. “I’ve got to go. Be outside at six. We’ll come by to pick you up.”

“Yes.”

“Remember! Six!” Ferg called out as David shut the door behind him. As he closed the door, David leaned against the door and slid down, crumpling up on the floor.

Why’s it all got to be so hard? Why can’t I just have fun….

Five years ago, it was just that. David’s band, the Society, had begun as a way for five students to occupy their time on the weekends, and earn a little extra cash. Now, they were a Top 10 band, selling singles and records as if they were going out of style. The Society’s debut album had broken into the charts like a bull. It was 1967 and the Summer of Love. David had his ear to the wall, and was perfectly in tune with the movement that had sprung up. Two years and two albums later, David’s muse had begun to burn out. Psychedelic pomp and fanciful flower-infused dreams were no longer in. The Society was now a business. The quintet had sacrificed their future careers to hedge their bets on pop music. David, once their foremost writer, singer, and frontman, had begun to fade away into the background. The four other musicians had, in the wake of David’s increasing withdrawal, become adept in writing themselves, and the most recent album only featured two of David’s songs. David was acutely aware of the situation, but had done little to alleviate it.

He couldn’t have cared less.

All I wanted to do was play guitar…

David stood up abruptly and walked with purpose towards his black-and-white Esquire, as the needle skipped on the record player. Plugging it into the amplifier, David hesitantly stared down at the wooden instrument, unsure of what to do. He strummed out an E chord. A G chord. An A chord. He looked up towards the ceiling, thinking for a moment, and began to hammer out a loose and drugged version of Smokestack Lightnin’. Ending boldly as the song peetered out into noise, David was proud of himself, even if it was a basic song.

Just like the good ol’ days….

There was a knock at the door as David prepped himself for run-through of Louie Louie. He eyed the door, and hoped that the person would go away.

“I know you’re in there! Open up!”

A sweet sounding delivery. The voice of an angel. David turned his amp off, laying his guitar back where it was, and briskly skipped towards the door. He opened the door to a beautiful maiden, thin as a nymph with hair down to her neck. June Mayfair smiled brightly as she was ushered into the rockstar’s abode.

“Smells like smoke.”

“Ah, yeah…”

“Do you have any for me?”

“Of course…”

David sat down at his table, taking the vinyl off his turntable and slipping it back into his sleeve. He began to roll two more joints, one for him and one for her.

“Have you been busy?”

“No, no, just puttering about…”

“Any new songs?”

“Yes, actually, it’s a nice little tune. It’ll be a jolly good single, I think…”

“What’s it called? Can you play it for me?”

“It’s called…” He paused for a moment, hesitating. “Well, I suppose it hasn’t got a title yet. Would you like to hear it?”

“Of course!”

“Ok, ok, light these.” He passed her the two paper cylinders as he went over to his guitar. Starting up the amp again, he began to tune his guitar up. June watched the lanky figure of her other as he ran his fingers up and down his instrument. “Here I go…” He began strumming out something in the key of G. David took some time, perhaps two minutes, to wander around the chord progression until he stumbled upon what he wanted. June, while not knowing much about anything related to music, could tell that David needed more time to finalize the song. Her thoughts were shattered as her acid-fueled elf began to sing his tune.

“I’m swaying in the breeze
Like a tree without roots
It’s on days like these
That I like to let loose”


David launched into a guitar solo as he said “let loose.” Using a primitive pedal board, he pranced around on the dials, making his guitar wail like a banshee. He began to devolve it into scattered and irregular shuffling, until setting himself back into the verses.

“I’m falling in the air
Cutting through like a stone
So please don’t say a prayer
I’m not the man you’ve known”


June was shocked by the edge and the darkness to these lyrics. The David that she had met all those years ago on the floor of the Cromwellian, with sunshine in his eyes and a spring in his step, had curdled into this. He threw some more disjointed riffs as he began the chorus, attempting some form of a bridge instrumentally.

“So please try to understand
This didn’t go as I planned
Will you still let me play in the band?
Will you still let me come home?”

He set off into another guitar solo, ripping the air around him and sending the room into space. It started off melodic, almost dreamy, but he began to take it higher and higher into the cosmos, sending out dissonant notes and reverberation, echoing about the room. After five minutes of noodling for his own benefit, he went back to the lyrics, for the next verse.

The walls are closing in on me
Doors shutting before my eyes
Please, please, let me be free
Please let me take off this disguise”

As he said ‘disguise’ he hit the strings improperly, making an awful hissing sound. He grew frustrated and furiously strummed the chords until a brutal noise came from the amp, the music indistinguishable from the feedback. There was still more to the song, but David was not willing to continue. “It isn’t quite good. It needs a lot of work…” David sighed, laying down on the bed next to June. “But they want it finished. Do you think it will be a good single?”

“It’s a lovely song, David.”

“But will it be a good single?”

“I don’t know, David. I’m not a musician.”

“That’s right, you aren’t….” David’s voice trailed off as June passed him his joint. Puffing on it disinterestedly, he pursed his lips. “Do you really think it’s good, my love?”

“Yes, it’s very good.” June laid her head on his chest, blowing smoke towards the ceiling. “It should be on your next record. When are you recording?”

“Oh, I’m not sure…” David puffed and puffed. “I don’t know...soon….” A silence passed over the couple as they smoked. David fell into his mind, the cogs of the machine turning and turning without ceasing. He felt safe, but he also felt a certain sense of dread, but he wasn’t sure why. He was forgetting something.

What was it? What did Ferg say…?

He sighed loudly, but June paid no attention. When David had begun to withdraw himself from his circle of friends and companions, she alone had been granted access into his inner sanctum. While he threw up walls around others, she was allowed inside. But he had, little by little, begun to change. The light that used to be in his eyes had begun to fade. He wasn’t the same person. She wasn’t sure why, and didn’t want to ask. The silence was better.
“Do you remember….” David started, but he bit at his lips as his voice abruptly stopped.

“Remember what?”

“I don’t remember…” David sighed. He crushed the joint out in an ashtray and closed his eyes. Beginning to drift off to sleep, he let his guard down and allowed himself to succumb to the temptation of slumber.

///
The rain came down little by little, and then all at once. The pitter-patter against the concrete created a rhythmic pattern, aurally soothing. David sat on the curb, smoking a cigarette which remained lit even in the downpour. He eyed the passing traffic with relative disinterest, and glanced up towards the dark clouds above.
He rubbed his temple and sighed. The clouds were depressing. The rain was doubly so. Standing up, he felt an incredible weight push him back down to his sitting position. The weight continued to press against him until he was lying on his back in agony, practically being pushed molecule by molecule through the pavement. It was as if an invisible press was pushing against his chest.
David filtered through the concrete and fell through the air, falling with the rain. His heart, black as stone, pulled him closer and closer towards the ground, twisting into a terminal turn. He flipped over and saw the asphalt below him come up to his vision. He closed his eyes, preparing for impact.
///

David awoke. The bright shining emissaries of the sun broke through the curtains and landed upon his eyes. The bright blue sea of the gelatinous balls encased in his skull were in a tempest. Shielding his eyes from the blinding sunlight he turned his head to his right, and against him laid June, still asleep. David felt at ease, running his hands through the maiden’s soft hair. Smiling to himself, he felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness. Visions of an impossible future flickered in his brain, fancying himself a suburban husband with his picket-fence wife. Phantoms of non-existent children on imaginary holiday trips to the shore, where they had a wonderfully inconceivable beach house.

The visions faded as a siren exploded on the street below, passing by as quickly as it came, but leaving an impression like a lightning bolt in the darkness. June was awoken by this and she looked up, her eyes meeting her other.

“What time is it, David?”

“Oh, hum…” He eyed the clock that hung on the opposite side of the room.

“Hmm, I can’t see….”

“Oh dear!” She shot up out of the bed, her dress wrinkled by the nap. “It’s almost six! I’ve got to get going. I’ve got an appointment with Mr. Whitehead. He’s promised me a role in his next picture…”

“That’s very nice..” David nodded. The mention of “six” had set something moving in his mind, but he wasn’t sure why. There was something important about six.

What was it…?

“Will you be around tonight, love?” June asked as she slipped her shoes on.

“Oh, yes, of course I will.” David nodded, full of certainty. “I’m not busy at all.”

“That’s lovely. After my meeting, I’ll come by.” She smiled, and kissed him. Their lips interlocked and for a moment, they were one in spirit. “Goodbye, darling.”

“Goodbye.”

David watched her petite body walk out the door, and close it behind her. He was alone. The ticking of the clock entered his mind. Tick-tock. He struggled to ascertain the significance of six. Tick-tock. What was it? Tick-tock. Did he too have an appointment? Tick-tock. Was it Christian, his manager? Tick-tock.

He pushed himself out of bed and sauntered towards his table, sitting down in Indian fashion, and opened a drawer. He pulled out a vial of some sort of liquid and likewise produced a sugar cube from the same drawer. Placing the cube carefully on a piece of wax paper conveniently on the table, he drew a small amount of the liquid into the vial and carefully lined it up with the cube.

Careful….

He squirted a drop of the liquid onto the cube and tossed it into his mouth quickly. He screwed the dropper carefully back into the vial and put it back in his desk. As he laid back on the floor of his apartment, he looked up at the clock hanging on the wall. At that exact moment, it dawned on him.

“Fuck!”

He stood up and began frantically gathering his guitar and equipment together. He threw his Esquire into its case and grabbed two pics, tossing them in there as well, and picking up a third to keep in his pocket. Surveying his room, he made sure he had everything. Realizing he would need some sort of disguise, he picked up a pair of dark red-shaded glasess and slipped them on. Nodding in assurance, he bolted out of his apartment and closed the door behind him, slamming it shut. Bounding down the stairs, he made his way fiercely out the front door.

He ran out onto the sidewalk outside just as a white van pulled up. Leaning out the window was Ferg, and he looked absolutely astonished. Driving was the band’s drummer, Mark O'Shaughnessy, a tough looking man from Londonderry.

“I’ve got to be honest with you, David.” Ferg laughed as David jumped in the back. “I didn’t think you’d actually make it.”

Without any comment, David squeezed himself in between the band’s equipment. The rest of the band chose to go there separately, in their own vehicles. David didn’t possess one, so he could only ride along.

The ride was a very quiet one, as David strived to keep himself composed and attempt to summon as much strength as he could to make it through the show. Every bump on the road was an electric surcharge through his veins, and the various bits and pieces of machinery in the back twisted into dark and deformed demons from story books long ago.

They pulled up after what seemed like an eternity for David at the venue, which was a Victorian-era theater, meant for plays but now converted into freakouts. Ferg had mentioned en route that they were somewhere outside the city, a little bit into the country. They were playing at a local festival, and were the main event.

“Don’t screw this up, David.” Ferg grabbed him by the arm as they walked in through the back door. “This is your last chance.”

“I won’t.” David shook the grip off of him and walked in with confidence, or at least the image of confidence. Walking in, he took a seat on a couch sitting back stage and idly smoked on a hookah that was provided on a table.

“Are you Dave Axton?”

A peculiar looking man with a balding grey head and square glasses asked his opposite sitting on the couch, sucking on a tube of tobacco. David looked at him, and the more he stared at him the stranger the man became. The baldness of his head shined at him, gleaming from the high lights above them both. His glasses reflected back to David millions of images of himself.

“I’m Richard Denham, the organizer of the….” David’s mind travelled elsewhere as the man introduced himself. He picked up bits and pieces. Promoter. Splendid. Show. Psychodelimana. The kids. Money. Wealth. Money. He was on another planet, the drab backstage turning into a sci-fi alien lounge. The promoter himself seemed to become a shade of green. “...and I just really wanted to wish you luck tonight. Thank you so much for coming.”

“Er,-uhm, yes, well, thank you.” David stumbled out, struggling to pick up the words. “You’re..you’re..you’re really too..uhm..you’re too kind.”

The promoter sensed that David was having a bad time of it, but dismissed it as the case of the nerves. He had been in the trenches. The promoter gazed into the chaotic blue whirlpool in David’s eyes and took his leave.

David continued to smoke on the tobacco, placing his mind high on a cloud, floating etherally in the blue expanse. That is, until he was brutally assaulted by Ferg, who grabbed him by the arm and pulled him towards the stage. “Time to go!” He laughed. David was startled, but since Ferg was laughing, he laughed too. They picked up their instruments, David picking up his guitar and strapping it on, and Ferg grabbing his bass. They walked out onto the stage together, the white bright stage lights beating down and blinding David. He attempted to shield his eyes, but it was too much. His vision was entirely white, tracers and flare filling it completely. He plugged in and looked around. His bandmates were various different blobs of color, bleeding and melting into the flaming surroundings.

“Without further ado, the Society!”

The lights suddenly shut off and the band was now doused in the beginnings of a liquid light show, the globs of blue and red covering them. David improvised a riff, forgetting whether they were supposed to play a set number, or whether they were improvising. The rest of the band quickly joined in, and since they didn’t seem to appear confused, David continued to improvise.

This improvisational number carried out for ten minutes, taking both the guitarist and the audience on a trip across space and time. While the audience witnessed strobe lights and liquid globs of projected color, David was witnessing the birth, death, and rebirth of the universe. Every cycle of the song, every return to normalcy from free-jazz-infused chaos, was like the cycle starting over again. In the faceless hungry crowd, he could only see dashes of color, blinded by the strobes.

They played a few more numbers, all mostly improvisational and instrumentals, nothing too complex on account of David, and prepared themselves for a final number.

“We’re not necessarily billed as a blues band, but that’s how we got our start.” Ferg laughed, and the audience laughed too. He had them in his hands. David smiled to himself, amused by the whole occasion. Ferg’s voice was oscillating frequencies in his acid-addled brain. “We’re going to send you all home tonight with a little groovy and classic twelve-bar blues. Thank you and goodnight.”

As Ferg and Mark began to lay down the beat, they turned to David, as did the rest of the band. They waited for his cue, a sign on where to go. He was, after all, the leader. But David had, in less than a minute, a realization. Ferg had taken charge here, and he felt himself being edged out. Edged out. His vision began to turn darker and darker as the figures in his vision turned into demons. He looked out into the crowd and could only see red-eyed shadow people, only ghosts of the real people. He nervously began to bite his fingers.

“Come on, mate…” Ferg pleaded with him off-mic, not missing a single beat. Melvin Pennington, the other guitarist, began to fill in, and as did Dan Eccleston, the keyboardist. They carried out without him, and only Mel seemed to glance at him, with ill-disguised contempt. But in Ferg’s eyes was sadness, tears flowing down his face. “Come on, man. Just...something…”

David strummed down an E chord brutally and angrily, and unplugged his guitar. There was a brief but incredibly loud hissing sound from the feedback, which was silenced by a quick-thinking individual back stage. David sat down quietly and diminutively on stage, running his hands through his air as the Mel’s guitar wailed next to his ears. He stared into the strobe lights that faced directly up towards him, and he could feel his mind slipping into the darkness.

*
The Society played to a full-house in the Roundhouse last night. They set the audience’s minds ablaze with their furious madness, the guitar complementing the other-worldly organ as the band played their first show of their first world tour. It was a hometown show, with all their hanger-ons, relatives, acquaintances, peers, and friends. They blew the roof off, and set the standard for a rock show. Their new album was forthcoming, projected to be a double LP set on account of a wealth of songs in the can.

But up at the front of the stage stood a burnt out candle of a man. His hair, once curly and full of spirit, now was matted and straight, and there was a permanent look of shock in his eyes, his lips quivering as he looked up towards the demigods on the stage.

That...is...my...band…

Last edited by Peter the Roman; February 2nd, 2018 at 02:04 PM.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 01:14 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by Peter the Roman View Post
The fan swung around and around in never-ending fast-paced cycles, the chain rattling around as the blades cut through the smokey air. A cigarette burned in an ashtray next to the king-sized bed, the aroma of the cigarette intertwined with the smell of marijuana and spilled alcohol. Lying on the bed was the lanky figure of David - never Dave - Axton, his flower-power perm shagged up and curled. He was fast asleep, practically out cold, when all of a sudden he shot up like a dart. In his eyes was a madcap twinkle, bloodshot and crazy. He ran his hands through his hair, twisting the locks with his right index finger as he let his left hand fall to his satin pants. Biting the inside of his lip, he thought for a moment about nothing at all.

David swung his legs off the bed and slipped his feet into his worn black Chelsea boots. He had not polished them for some time, and there were a few scuffs and thinning of the dark finish. Standing up, he felt his legs wobble and weaken. Regaining his strength by taking the last drag of the burning cigarette, he traipsed slowly towards his wardrobe. The fan’s whipping cycles beat against his exposed pale skin, relatively hairless when compared to other men of his age. He was barely 23. Opening his clothing cabinet, he examined the contents. Various peacock shirts, adorned with paisley patterns, multi-colored lines and patterns, and extravagant colors greeted him. His eyes fell to the trousers that he was wearing, a burgundy pair of corduroy.

Wot shall I wear today? Hmm….

His eyes glided back and forth between the shirts. Pulling out a pink-green-blue paisley patterned shirt by its sleeve, he thought for a moment and let it fall back into the closet.

Hmmph..

A sense of urgency came upon him, and he gripped up a shirt’s sleeve. He wasn’t sure of what was so urgent, or why he felt this way, but he felt an incredible amount of pressure. He was late for something. He had to be somewhere. But where?

Hmm…I like this one…

He pulled out a black-and-white zig-zag shirt and tossed it onto his bed. Reaching down to the bottom of the wardrobe he grabbed a white undershirt and threw it on. It was awfully chilly so he felt obliged to put it on. Once that shirt was on, he slipped on the zig-zag button up and fashioned it on himself. He pulled down on it once it was on. It barely reached over the zipper on his pants.

Ought to get a bigger shirt...ought to get smaller...

He walked over to the window of his apartment. There was only one, as he lived in a small one-room with an adjacent bathroom. It was all together very fancy, and very much within his budget, allowing him money for personal expenses. He had lived here, at 101 Hotham Road, for as long as he could remember - which wasn't very long. On the windowsill, David kept a potted cactus. He was very insistent to his friends that once it was large enough, he would cut it up and make tea of it.

Just another six inches….

Staring through the warped and wavy glass, a host of odd characters strolled up and down the street. Clowns in polka-dot and disturbing men in Victorian redcoats, they waved and cheerfully greeted each other. Ladies in bright white and men in their fluorescent habits eloped arm-in-arm.

Tsk.

David sauntered towards a table along the wall, on which sat a record player, some assorted LPs, and a jar of green dope. He crouched down on his toes and analyzed the records, fingering through the cardboard cuts.

Beatles..no...Davis...no no....Stones...? No...no… Ah! Yes! Yes!

He picked up a green album and pulled the wax from the interior. Placing it on the turntable, he dropped the needle. As the musical sounds of rock’n’roll crescendoed on the stereos, David rolled himself a joint. The guitars wailed as he completed the motions. Feeling through his pockets with a free hand, he produced a Zippo and sparked the joint. Throwing the Zippo aside, he fell backwards onto the floor, taking heavy drags. Smoke blew up into fan, which tossed it around the free-falling air. The vocals of what sounded like an elf sang about some otherworld in the ether.

As David floated in space, a pounding banged on the door. David turned his head towards the door. He did not get up, hoping that the person would eventually tire, and leave. But, yet, they continued to barrage on the wood with their fist.

“David! Open the door!”

David contemplated the words. They echoed back and forth in his skull, each syllable ringing around and around.

“What do you want?”

“Open the door!”

“What do you want?”

“Open the fucking door!”

Hmph….

David rose to his feet and unlocked the door. He laid back down at his previous position, puffing on the disproportionally large green cigarette. Turning his head to face the opening door, David saw a pair of loafers with satin legs attached to them, and a polka-dot vibrant collared torso connected to them. Malcolm Ferguson stood with glaring eyes towards his incapacitated friend, lying on the floor.

“Ah, Ferg! Come to visit, yes? Shall I put the kettle on?”

“No, I won’t be long.”

“Ah, well...what have you come for then?”

“I came along to remind you of the obligations for tonight.”

“Oh, I hadn’t forgotten, Ferg.”

“Be ready for us at six. We’ve got a show tonight.”

“I’m aware, Ferg.”

“I’m just letting you know, David.” A pervasive silence filled the room. It remained unbroken for seconds that seemed like hours. David puffed on his joint. “Have you any new material written?”

“Oh, here and there…”

“We’ve got studio time booked in a week. Will you have something?”

“Yes! Yes, definitely, Ferg. You can count on me.”

“I know, I’m just making sure…” Ferg rubbed his chin. “Do you have anything ready right now?”

“Bits and bobs….it needs more work….” David’s voice trailed off. He opened his mouth to say more, but it fell apart in his head. He let out an audible sigh.

“Listen, David…” Ferg scratched his flowing hair. “There’s really no easy way to tell you this. We’re starting to get really fed up with your attitude.” He spoke bluntly and matter-of-factly, ushering out his words with promptness and urgency. He had thought these words through carefully. David’s eyes watched the fan above him spin around and around and around and around. “It’s starting to get a bit excessive. What’s going on, man?”

“I’m perfectly fine, Fergy.” David smirked, and flicked his almost-finished butt towards the window. It fell short and landed on the floor, continuing to emit a small trail of smoke. “I’ve just had a bit of writer’s block, is all.”

“It’s not just that, David.” Ferg leaned back against the wall. This wasn’t the kind of talk that he wanted to have. He furrowed his brow and rubbed his temples, running his hands through his locks. “It’s the whole thing, man. You barely come to rehearsals and when you do, you’re braindead on God knows what! It’s really exasperating. We finally made it, and you’re deadset on pissing it away!”

“Don’t you assume things about me, Malcolm.” David snarled viciously. From jokester to devil in seconds. “I’ve thought a lot about things…”

“Maybe you should think about things some more, and figure out what is important to you, and what isn’t.” Ferg twisted the knob and began to walk out of David’s room. “I’ve got to go. Be outside at six. We’ll come by to pick you up.”

“Yes.”

“Remember! Six!” Ferg called out as David shut the door behind him. As he closed the door, David leaned against the door and slid down, crumpling up on the floor.

Why’s it all got to be so hard? Why can’t I just have fun….

Five years ago, it was just that. David’s band, the Society, had begun as a way for five students to occupy their time on the weekends, and earn a little extra cash. Now, they were a Top 10 band, selling singles and records as if they were going out of style. The Society’s debut album had broken into the charts like a bull. It was 1967 and the Summer of Love. David had his ear to the wall, and was perfectly in tune with the movement that had sprung up. Two years and two albums later, David’s muse had begun to burn out. Psychedelic pomp and fanciful flower-infused dreams were no longer in. The Society was now a business. The quintet had sacrificed their future careers to hedge their bets on pop music. David, once their foremost writer, singer, and frontman, had begun to fade away into the background. The four other musicians had, in the wake of David’s increasing withdrawal, become adept in writing themselves, and the most recent album only featured two of David’s songs. David was acutely aware of the situation, but had done little to alleviate it.

He couldn’t have cared less.

All I wanted to do was play guitar…

David stood up abruptly and walked with purpose towards his black-and-white Esquire, as the needle skipped on the record player. Plugging it into the amplifier, David hesitantly stared down at the wooden instrument, unsure of what to do. He strummed out an E chord. A G chord. An A chord. He looked up towards the ceiling, thinking for a moment, and began to hammer out a loose and drugged version of Smokestack Lightnin’. Ending boldly as the song peetered out into noise, David was proud of himself, even if it was a basic song.

Just like the good ol’ days….

There was a knock at the door as David prepped himself for run-through of Louie Louie. He eyed the door, and hoped that the person would go away.

“I know you’re in there! Open up!”

A sweet sounding delivery. The voice of an angel. David turned his amp off, laying his guitar back where it was, and briskly skipped towards the door. He opened the door to a beautiful maiden, thin as a nymph with hair down to her neck. June Mayfair smiled brightly as she was ushered into the rockstar’s abode.

“Smells like smoke.”

“Ah, yeah…”

“Do you have any for me?”

“Of course…”

David sat down at his table, taking the vinyl off his turntable and slipping it back into his sleeve. He began to roll two more joints, one for him and one for her.

“Have you been busy?”

“No, no, just puttering about…”

“Any new songs?”

“Yes, actually, it’s a nice little tune. It’ll be a jolly good single, I think…”

“What’s it called? Can you play it for me?”

“It’s called…” He paused for a moment, hesitating. “Well, I suppose it hasn’t got a title yet. Would you like to hear it?”

“Of course!”

“Ok, ok, light these.” He passed her the two paper cylinders as he went over to his guitar. Starting up the amp again, he began to tune his guitar up. June watched the lanky figure of her other as he ran his fingers up and down his instrument. “Here I go…” He began strumming out something in the key of G. David took some time, perhaps two minutes, to wander around the chord progression until he stumbled upon what he wanted. June, while not knowing much about anything related to music, could tell that David needed more time to finalize the song. Her thoughts were shattered as her acid-fueled elf began to sing his tune.

“I’m swaying in the breeze
Like a tree without roots
It’s on days like these
That I like to let loose”


David launched into a guitar solo as he said “let loose.” Using a primitive pedal board, he pranced around on the dials, making his guitar wail like a banshee. He began to devolve it into scattered and irregular shuffling, until setting himself back into the verses.

“I’m falling in the air
Cutting through like a stone
So please don’t say a prayer
I’m not the man you’ve known”


June was shocked by the edge and the darkness to these lyrics. The David that she had met all those years ago on the floor of the Cromwellian, with sunshine in his eyes and a spring in his step, had curdled into this. He threw some more disjointed riffs as he began the chorus, attempting some form of a bridge instrumentally.

“So please try to understand
This didn’t go as I planned
Will you still let me play in the band?
Will you still let me come home?”

He set off into another guitar solo, ripping the air around him and sending the room into space. It started off melodic, almost dreamy, but he began to take it higher and higher into the cosmos, sending out dissonant notes and reverberation, echoing about the room. After five minutes of noodling for his own benefit, he went back to the lyrics, for the next verse.

The walls are closing in on me
Doors shutting before my eyes
Please, please, let me be free
Please let me take off this disguise”

As he said ‘disguise’ he hit the strings improperly, making an awful hissing sound. He grew frustrated and furiously strummed the chords until a brutal noise came from the amp, the music indistinguishable from the feedback. There was still more to the song, but David was not willing to continue. “It isn’t quite good. It needs a lot of work…” David sighed, laying down on the bed next to June. “But they want it finished. Do you think it will be a good single?”

“It’s a lovely song, David.”

“But will it be a good single?”

“I don’t know, David. I’m not a musician.”

“That’s right, you aren’t….” David’s voice trailed off as June passed him his joint. Puffing on it disinterestedly, he pursed his lips. “Do you really think it’s good, my love?”

“Yes, it’s very good.” June laid her head on his chest, blowing smoke towards the ceiling. “It should be on your next record. When are you recording?”

“Oh, I’m not sure…” David puffed and puffed. “I don’t know...soon….” A silence passed over the couple as they smoked. David fell into his mind, the cogs of the machine turning and turning without ceasing. He felt safe, but he also felt a certain sense of dread, but he wasn’t sure why. He was forgetting something.

What was it? What did Ferg say…?

He sighed loudly, but June paid no attention. When David had begun to withdraw himself from his circle of friends and companions, she alone had been granted access into his inner sanctum. While he threw up walls around others, she was allowed inside. But he had, little by little, begun to change. The light that used to be in his eyes had begun to fade. He wasn’t the same person. She wasn’t sure why, and didn’t want to ask. The silence was better.
“Do you remember….” David started, but he bit at his lips as his voice abruptly stopped.

“Remember what?”

“I don’t remember…” David sighed. He crushed the joint out in an ashtray and closed his eyes. Beginning to drift off to sleep, he let his guard down and allowed himself to succumb to the temptation of slumber.

///
The rain came down little by little, and then all at once. The pitter-patter against the concrete created a rhythmic pattern, aurally soothing. David sat on the curb, smoking a cigarette which remained lit even in the downpour. He eyed the passing traffic with relative disinterest, and glanced up towards the dark clouds above.
He rubbed his temple and sighed. The clouds were depressing. The rain was doubly so. Standing up, he felt an incredible weight push him back down to his sitting position. The weight continued to press against him until he was lying on his back in agony, practically being pushed molecule by molecule through the pavement. It was as if an invisible press was pushing against his chest.
David filtered through the concrete and fell through the air, falling with the rain. His heart, black as stone, pulled him closer and closer towards the ground, twisting into a terminal turn. He flipped over and saw the asphalt below him come up to his vision. He closed his eyes, preparing for impact.
///

David awoke. The bright shining emissaries of the sun broke through the curtains and landed upon his eyes. The bright blue sea of the gelatinous balls encased in his skull were in a tempest. Shielding his eyes from the blinding sunlight he turned his head to his right, and against him laid June, still asleep. David felt at ease, running his hands through the maiden’s soft hair. Smiling to himself, he felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness. Visions of an impossible future flickered in his brain, fancying himself a suburban husband with his picket-fence wife. Phantoms of non-existent children on imaginary holiday trips to the shore, where they had a wonderfully inconceivable beach house.

The visions faded as a siren exploded on the street below, passing by as quickly as it came, but leaving an impression like a lightning bolt in the darkness. June was awoken by this and she looked up, her eyes meeting her other.

“What time is it, David?”

“Oh, hum…” He eyed the clock that hung on the opposite side of the room.

“Hmm, I can’t see….”

“Oh dear!” She shot up out of the bed, her dress wrinkled by the nap. “It’s almost six! I’ve got to get going. I’ve got an appointment with Mr. Whitehead. He’s promised me a role in his next picture…”

“That’s very nice..” David nodded. The mention of “six” had set something moving in his mind, but he wasn’t sure why. There was something important about six.

What was it…?

“Will you be around tonight, love?” June asked as she slipped her shoes on.

“Oh, yes, of course I will.” David nodded, full of certainty. “I’m not busy at all.”

“That’s lovely. After my meeting, I’ll come by.” She smiled, and kissed him. Their lips interlocked and for a moment, they were one in spirit. “Goodbye, darling.”

“Goodbye.”

David watched her petite body walk out the door, and close it behind her. He was alone. The ticking of the clock entered his mind. Tick-tock. He struggled to ascertain the significance of six. Tick-tock. What was it? Tick-tock. Did he too have an appointment? Tick-tock. Was it Christian, his manager? Tick-tock.

He pushed himself out of bed and sauntered towards his table, sitting down in Indian fashion, and opened a drawer. He pulled out a vial of some sort of liquid and likewise produced a sugar cube from the same drawer. Placing the cube carefully on a piece of wax paper conveniently on the table, he drew a small amount of the liquid into the vial and carefully lined it up with the cube.

Careful….

He squirted a drop of the liquid onto the cube and tossed it into his mouth quickly. He screwed the dropper carefully back into the vial and put it back in his desk. As he laid back on the floor of his apartment, he looked up at the clock hanging on the wall. At that exact moment, it dawned on him.

“Fuck!”

He stood up and began frantically gathering his guitar and equipment together. He threw his Esquire into its case and grabbed two pics, tossing them in there as well, and picking up a third to keep in his pocket. Surveying his room, he made sure he had everything. Realizing he would need some sort of disguise, he picked up a pair of dark red-shaded glasess and slipped them on. Nodding in assurance, he bolted out of his apartment and closed the door behind him, slamming it shut. Bounding down the stairs, he made his way fiercely out the front door.

He ran out onto the sidewalk outside just as a white van pulled up. Leaning out the window was Ferg, and he looked absolutely astonished. Driving was the band’s drummer, Mark O'Shaughnessy, a tough looking man from Londonderry.

“I’ve got to be honest with you, David.” Ferg laughed as David jumped in the back. “I didn’t think you’d actually make it.”

Without any comment, David squeezed himself in between the band’s equipment. The rest of the band chose to go there separately, in their own vehicles. David didn’t possess one, so he could only ride along.

The ride was a very quiet one, as David strived to keep himself composed and attempt to summon as much strength as he could to make it through the show. Every bump on the road was an electric surcharge through his veins, and the various bits and pieces of machinery in the back twisted into dark and deformed demons from story books long ago.

They pulled up after what seemed like an eternity for David at the venue, which was a Victorian-era theater, meant for plays but now converted into freakouts. Ferg had mentioned en route that they were somewhere outside the city, a little bit into the country. They were playing at a local festival, and were the main event.

“Don’t screw this up, David.” Ferg grabbed him by the arm as they walked in through the back door. “This is your last chance.”

“I won’t.” David shook the grip off of him and walked in with confidence, or at least the image of confidence. Walking in, he took a seat on a couch sitting back stage and idly smoked on a hookah that was provided on a table.

“Are you Dave Axton?”

A peculiar looking man with a balding grey head and square glasses asked his opposite sitting on the couch, sucking on a tube of tobacco. David looked at him, and the more he stared at him the stranger the man became. The baldness of his head shined at him, gleaming from the high lights above them both. His glasses reflected back to David millions of images of himself.

“I’m Richard Denham, the organizer of the….” David’s mind travelled elsewhere as the man introduced himself. He picked up bits and pieces. Promoter. Splendid. Show. Psychodelimana. The kids. Money. Wealth. Money. He was on another planet, the drab backstage turning into a sci-fi alien lounge. The promoter himself seemed to become a shade of green. “...and I just really wanted to wish you luck tonight. Thank you so much for coming.”

“Er,-uhm, yes, well, thank you.” David stumbled out, struggling to pick up the words. “You’re..you’re..you’re really too..uhm..you’re too kind.”

The promoter sensed that David was having a bad time of it, but dismissed it as the case of the nerves. He had been in the trenches. The promoter gazed into the chaotic blue whirlpool in David’s eyes and took his leave.

David continued to smoke on the tobacco, placing his mind high on a cloud, floating etherally in the blue expanse. That is, until he was brutally assaulted by Ferg, who grabbed him by the arm and pulled him towards the stage. “Time to go!” He laughed. David was startled, but since Ferg was laughing, he laughed too. They picked up their instruments, David picking up his guitar and strapping it on, and Ferg grabbing his bass. They walked out onto the stage together, the white bright stage lights beating down and blinding David. He attempted to shield his eyes, but it was too much. His vision was entirely white, tracers and flare filling it completely. He plugged in and looked around. His bandmates were various different blobs of color, bleeding and melting into the flaming surroundings.

“Without further ado, the Society!”

The lights suddenly shut off and the band was now doused in the beginnings of a liquid light show, the globs of blue and red covering them. David improvised a riff, forgetting whether they were supposed to play a set number, or whether they were improvising. The rest of the band quickly joined in, and since they didn’t seem to appear confused, David continued to improvise.

This improvisational number carried out for ten minutes, taking both the guitarist and the audience on a trip across space and time. While the audience witnessed strobe lights and liquid globs of projected color, David was witnessing the birth, death, and rebirth of the universe. Every cycle of the song, every return to normalcy from free-jazz-infused chaos, was like the cycle starting over again. In the faceless hungry crowd, he could only see dashes of color, blinded by the strobes.

They played a few more numbers, all mostly improvisational and instrumentals, nothing too complex on account of David, and prepared themselves for a final number.

“We’re not necessarily billed as a blues band, but that’s how we got our start.” Ferg laughed, and the audience laughed too. He had them in his hands. David smiled to himself, amused by the whole occasion. Ferg’s voice was oscillating frequencies in his acid-addled brain. “We’re going to send you all home tonight with a little groovy and classic twelve-bar blues. Thank you and goodnight.”

As Ferg and Mark began to lay down the beat, they turned to David, as did the rest of the band. They waited for his cue, a sign on where to go. He was, after all, the leader. But David had, in less than a minute, a realization. Ferg had taken charge here, and he felt himself being edged out. Edged out. His vision began to turn darker and darker as the figures in his vision turned into demons. He looked out into the crowd and could only see red-eyed shadow people, only ghosts of the real people. He nervously began to bite his fingers.

“Come on, mate…” Ferg pleaded with him off-mic, not missing a single beat. Melvin Pennington, the other guitarist, began to fill in, and as did Dan Eccleston, the keyboardist. They carried out without him, and only Mel seemed to glance at him, with ill-disguised contempt. But in Ferg’s eyes was sadness, tears flowing down his face. “Come on, man. Just...something…”

David strummed down an E chord brutally and angrily, and unplugged his guitar. There was a brief but incredibly loud hissing sound from the feedback, which was silenced by a quick-thinking individual back stage. David sat down quietly and diminutively on stage, running his hands through his air as the Mel’s guitar wailed next to his ears. He stared into the strobe lights that faced directly up towards him, and he could feel his mind slipping into the darkness.

*
The Society played to a full-house in the Roundhouse last night. They set the audience’s minds ablaze with their furious madness, the guitar complementing the other-worldly organ as the band played their first show of their first world tour. It was a hometown show, with all their hanger-ons, relatives, acquaintances, peers, and friends. They blew the roof off, and set the standard for a rock show. Their new album was forthcoming, projected to be a double LP set on account of a wealth of songs in the can.

But up at the front of the stage stood a burnt out candle of a man. His hair, once curly and full of spirit, now was matted and straight, and there was a permanent look of shock in his eyes, his lips quivering as he looked up towards the demigods on the stage.

That...is...my...band…
"Shot up like a dart" got my attention. Rockets shoot up in the vertical plane and darts travel in the horizontal plane. Shot up like a rocket? Constructive criticism and nothing more or less. People are too sensitive today but Peter the Roman can take it.
Thanks from Peter the Roman
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 05:42 AM   #63
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Location: Western Slope, Colorado
Posts: 58,207
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter the Roman View Post
~snip~

That...is...my...band…
Man, I don't know how you do it. I know you weren't alive at the time, but you write about the time and the dramas as though you were.

To wit:

Five years ago, it was just that. David’s band, the Society, had begun as a way for five students to occupy their time on the weekends, and earn a little extra cash. Now, they were a Top 10 band, selling singles and records as if they were going out of style. The Society’s debut album had broken into the charts like a bull. It was 1967 and the Summer of Love. David had his ear to the wall, and was perfectly in tune with the movement that had sprung up. Two years and two albums later, David’s muse had begun to burn out. Psychedelic pomp and fanciful flower-infused dreams were no longer in. The Society was now a business....
I'm reminded of the bands called one-hit wonders, often having more than one hit, but either way after a meteoric flash to stardom they burned into mediocrity or obscurity with matching dispatch ... but some kept on going, and, incredibly, some still perform their one big pop and the rest of their undistinguished repertoire, alcohol rather than acid their intoxicant du jour.

A business.

Neil Young referred to it here:

Hippie Dream

Take my advice
Don't listen to me
It ain't paradise
But it used to be
There was a time
When the river was wide
And the water
Came running down
To the rising tide
But the wooden ships
Were just a hippie dream
Just a hippie dream.

Don't bat an eye
Don't waste a word
Don't mention nothin'
That could go unheard
'Cause the tie-dye sails
Are the screamin' sheets
And the dusty trail
Leads to blood
In the streets
And the wooden ships
Are a hippie dream
Capsized in excess
If you know what I mean.

Just because
It's over for you
Don't mean
It's over for me
It's a victory
For the heart
Every time
The music starts
So please
Don't kill the machine
Don't kill the machine
Don't kill the machine.

Another flower child
Goes to seed
In an ether-filled
Room of meat-hooks
It's so ugly
So ugly.


********************

Another flower child goes to seed. I've watched it. I have a friend, the best rock guitar player I've ever known, who in the late 60s and early 70s could 110% rip Hendrix, Santana, Beck, Clapton, anyone. I'd play his band's practice tapes for friends and tell them that those were bootleg recordings, and they'd believe me and ask if they could copy them.

The band, Rain, enjoyed not as much as they were due but some success.

Last year, he retired from being an "industrial psychologist," who'd worked for the federal government, to a place called "The Villages" in central Florida.

I've known about equal numbers of "true" hippies as "true" Christians. Not many.

Anyway, didn't mean to run so long here. I truly enjoyed reading that piece. When I finished, I was hungry for more, but I looked at the story as a short story and its tale is told.

I'm hungry for more of your writing. Don't stop.
Thanks from Peter the Roman
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Old February 4th, 2018, 11:03 AM   #64
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Location: The heart of darkness
Posts: 293
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twisted Sister View Post
"Shot up like a dart" got my attention. Rockets shoot up in the vertical plane and darts travel in the horizontal plane. Shot up like a rocket? Constructive criticism and nothing more or less. People are too sensitive today but Peter the Roman can take it.
I just liked how it sounded.

What did you think of the rest of it, or did you stop reading there?
Quote:
Originally Posted by imaginethat View Post
Man, I don't know how you do it. I know you weren't alive at the time, but you write about the time and the dramas as though you were.
You're right. I wasn't there. Maybe I channeled someone or something with this.

Quote:
To wit:

Five years ago, it was just that. David’s band, the Society, had begun as a way for five students to occupy their time on the weekends, and earn a little extra cash. Now, they were a Top 10 band, selling singles and records as if they were going out of style. The Society’s debut album had broken into the charts like a bull. It was 1967 and the Summer of Love. David had his ear to the wall, and was perfectly in tune with the movement that had sprung up. Two years and two albums later, David’s muse had begun to burn out. Psychedelic pomp and fanciful flower-infused dreams were no longer in. The Society was now a business....
I'm reminded of the bands called one-hit wonders, often having more than one hit, but either way after a meteoric flash to stardom they burned into mediocrity or obscurity with matching dispatch ... but some kept on going, and, incredibly, some still perform their one big pop and the rest of their undistinguished repertoire, alcohol rather than acid their intoxicant du jour.

A business.
Yeah definitely. Glad you could make that connection.

Quote:
Another flower child goes to seed. I've watched it. I have a friend, the best rock guitar player I've ever known, who in the late 60s and early 70s could 110% rip Hendrix, Santana, Beck, Clapton, anyone. I'd play his band's practice tapes for friends and tell them that those were bootleg recordings, and they'd believe me and ask if they could copy them.

The band, Rain, enjoyed not as much as they were due but some success.

Last year, he retired from being an "industrial psychologist," who'd worked for the federal government, to a place called "The Villages" in central Florida.

I've known about equal numbers of "true" hippies as "true" Christians. Not many.

Anyway, didn't mean to run so long here. I truly enjoyed reading that piece. When I finished, I was hungry for more, but I looked at the story as a short story and its tale is told.

I'm hungry for more of your writing. Don't stop.
I suppose the protagonist in this story didn't necessarily "sell-out" but blew his mind out.

Thank you.
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